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Empowering women with disabilities by offering training in income generating activities is a common vision shared by the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre (LDWDC) and the EU-funded Improved Cookstove (ICS) programme. A new collaboration under ADB’s Gender and Climate Change project is developed to provide income opportunities for women, while at the same time open up the market for improved stoves.

23 disabled women from LDWDC visited an ICS production workshop in Khokxay village, Hadxayfong district, to observe the cookstove production process. A lack of reliable and skilled labourers is often a bottleneck for improved cookstove production, however the potential involvement of LDWDC may help address this issue. Mr. Siew, owner of the improved cookstove workshop, was very impressed by the observed strong spirit and willingness to learn shown by the women when making their first stoves.

Bastiaan Teune, Energy sector leader of SNV Lao PDR, commented: “We have made an important first step in what may become one of the largest improved cookstove centers in Laos. This initiative supports the participation of disabled women in a green economy, and for households the stoves save 25% of time and money. Moreover, it reduces the pressure on the environment”. Since 2013, 15,000 improved cookstoves have been sold (they can be recognised by their distinct blue label).